UWI staff protest over slow negotiations

PORT OF SPAIN — Scores of non-academic staff members of The University of the West Indies marched and chanted around the St. Augustine campus yesterday, saying they are upset over the slow pace of negotiations, which have been ongoing since 2008.

According to several members of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union, who did not want to go on record, they began their vigil on Monday and continued just after midday yesterday by visiting different departments in a bid to sensitise their colleagues on their action.


One key union member said that on March 1 their demands were reduced from their initial request of 35 per cent to nine per cent.

He added that Ministry of Finance officials said they would forward the demand to the chief personnel officer for her consideration and they needed two weeks to do so.

However, according to the union representative, the two weeks have since passed and they got no word from the ministry and, as a result, they decided that from Monday they would take their demands to the campus principal Professor Clement Sankat, in the hope he would gently remind the “holders of the purse strings of their commitments”.

Little choice

He added that they were left with little choice, as some of their members had been working for 2007 salaries in 2013 and that it was not fair on them or their families.

Yesterday, UWI’s human resources director, Stephen Sheppard, informed the union that the university had held discussions with the Finance Ministry and it is considering the nine per cent proposal.

Sheppard also said they had been in contact with the CPO, “who indicated to them that her office is reviewing the proposal and will send a note to the Minister of Finance (Larry Howai) upon completion of the exercise”.

“We remain hopeful that the CPO would formally indicate to us the revised position of the Government before the next conciliation hearing, scheduled for April 8,” said Sheppard. (Express)

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